LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Since December 10, 2021, more than 60 tornado-related scams from western Kentucky have been reported to the attorney general’s office.
The devastating damage is still hard to fathom, but what’s equally tragic, those taking advantage of people who have already lost so much.
According to the attorney general’s office, there have been 63 tornado-related scam complaints reported in the last three months across 11 counties in Kentucky and one from out of state.
Twenty-three of those came from Graves County, where Mayfield is located and where nearly two dozen people died.
Marshall County also reported 17 scam complaints and there were also some out of Hopkins and Warren County as well.
“The vast majority of these are [people] stealing someone’s identity to use it to apply for government benefits. And in this case, to apply for FEMA benefits and also SBA loans,” LaDonna Koebel said.
Koebel handles all incoming reports of scams, fraud and identity theft statewide and says people often aren’t cautious enough when it comes to giving out their information, especially when scammers are posing as the Social Security Administration or bank after a disaster.
“They're trying to prove their own identity when they don't even have all of their, their own paperwork, they might not have their proof of Social Security and all of their information, and they're trying to unravel something that the scammers have started. So, it's gut wrenching, but we try to walk people through here all the steps, you know, we're just going to take care of this one by one,” she said.
Koebel encourages folks to regularly check credit reports to look for odd charges and to put a fraud alert on your account, even if you haven't had an identity theft.
She also warns people to never give out information over the phone, that is, if someone calls you.
You should hang up, and call that organization directly to make sure.